Social media platforms have been becoming an increasingly integrated part of the lives of the Somali people. They have become the number one socializing method of the public, especially among the millennials who have come of age in the technology age.
Social Media is where most people get their news bulleting, learn about the latest events, form and exchange opinions, discuss important issues, do fundraisings for the causes they care about and most importantly social media is where they express themselves without the fear of censorship.
Even though the argument that social media is slowly destroying the community fiber may hold some truth, the fact that it has become a formidable force for good is undisputed. Social Media sites have become where the highest form of democracy- the freedom of speech and expression- is exercised, where the voice of the voiceless is amplified, and most importantly human rights promoted and defended.
A great example that demonstrated such uncanny powers of social media has happened in Hargeisa when a mother of orphaned children was unjustly fired from her cleaning operative job at a local supermarket, without getting any of her rights as an employee.
A woman who came to the supermarket to do some shopping has overheard the mother saying something about being fired to one of the other employees and got curious to learn more about the case. The woman asked the mother why was she fired and she replied “I fell down the steps yesterday during my work hours and my knee was hurt, so I could not get up and come to work this morning. I instead sent my daughter to do my job in the morning shift and this has frustrated the manager. When I arrived in the afternoon for the second shift, the manager told me that I was fired since I could not properly do the work.” She continued, “When I begged him to allow me to stay the rest of the month since we were in the middle of the month and I could not get the money to support my family anywhere else, he refused.”
The woman who was shocked by the mother’s story has asked her if she works double shifts and she replied, “Yes, I come here early in the morning and leave at midday to cook lunch for my children and I come back in the afternoon and stay on shift until 9 at night. I get paid $70 a month for all of that. And the worst thing is the fact the manager checks everything several times a day looking for a fault and if he finds anything he scolds me so harshly.”
The young woman who has learned the mother’s story has decided to share the story on her Facebook page. The story has reached thousands and where shared by several hundred people across the world within 2 hours. Many of the people wanted to financially contribute to the mother. Many others wrote about the story on their pages expressing empathy, anger, and frustration about what this mother had to put with for so long. Moreover, the story has reached officials from the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs within 24 hours and they promised that they will take steps to get the mother her rights immediately.
The following morning the ministry has called the mother and the employer to learn more about the matter and then it has made its decision following the Somaliland labor code. The final decision was for the employer to pay the employee her full rights including gratuity, annual leave, holidays, and the national holidays. The mother was paid a total amount of $990.
Furthermore, the chairperson of the Somaliland Department of Refugees, who has read the moving story on Facebook, has employed the mother in his department with less working hours and better pay.
Social Media can indeed be a force good and a voice for the vulnerable.